Institution: University of Bologna
Name of the tool: Civil service volunteers
Key actors: Students with special needs
Support office
State of the tool: Consolidated
Student's areas involved: Travelling to university
Attending lessons
Having an exam and practical course/internship
Dealing with professor and administrative staff
Relation with supporting staff
Peers relations
Social life
Description of the tool:

Since 2006, the Service for disabled and dyslexic students at Bologna University host civil service volunteers for one-year periods. Volunteers are employed in all activities of the Service not requiring too specific pedagogical competences. They support students in reaching university's venues, taking notes in classes, studying, having examinations, digitalizing books and often, in socializing within and outside university.

Their role is similar to peer mentors' one, but volunteers work in full-time base at the office (30hours a week) and they are paid by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies: thus, in a s chronicle situation of budget shortages, they represent a precious resource for dealing with a constantly growing number of request for support reaching the Service. At the same time, volunteers are making a professional and life experience making them "messengers" of social inclusion for the all society. 

User manual:

This tool should be locally evaluated and structured according to the local/national regulation and organization of civil service. 

 What is essential is to frame volunteers' presence and contribution within a well-defined and formative project of civil service. This should of course include a fundamental training of the volunteers  (at different moments of their service) about disability, inclusion and dealing with special needs. Of course, volunteers will not receive assignments and task requiring specific and professional competencies/expertise.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of volunteers' work and the personal positive outcome of their service, the hosting Office should be open and prepared for their presence and willing to include them in a constructive way within the overall working team. Specific occasions dedicated to the assessment of the volunteers' experience and to the dialogue with the overall working team have to be planned and regularly carried out.

Other kinds of voluntary work may be suitable as well. The added value represented by the civil service volunteers is based on their great availability of time for a relevant period (one year), moreover ruled by a professional contract of employment.